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Jumbo Package: Does Alabama have the next top defensive back in the nation?

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Josh Jobe has to potential to become that guy as a senior

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One - Alabama v Notre Dame Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Lott IMPACT Trophy announced its watch list for the 2021 season Tuesday, which featured 41 players. Representing Alabama on the watch list was senior cornerback Josh Jobe.

The Lott IMPACT Trophy is awarded annually to individuals who demonstrate excellence in athletics and recognizes college football’s Defensive Player of the Year who best exemplifies the IMPACT acronym: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

While Pat Surtain rightfully gained all the headlines for his shutdown season at cornerback last year, that also meant that Josh Jobe was targeted more often as a result, and he absolutely delivered in terms of pass coverage.

The first year starter broke up passes all season long, including some really critical ones in the game against Georgia early in the year. As he returns for his senior season, Jobe will look to become a true lockdown corner and play his way into the top of the NFL draft circles.

“He’s definitely a linebacker in the SEC,” Coleman said. “He’s a sideline-to-sideline guy. He’s downhill. He’s physical. He’s fast. He’s smart. He’s a quarterback on the defense. He will be a linebacker for sure. Can he play other positions? Could he be a running back? Probably so because he is so talented. When he’s at wide receiver, he’s the best receiver on the team. He is that type of athlete. If you just look at his build, you can tell he’s special.”

In limited time on offense for the Lions as a junior, Woodyard caught 51 passes for 508 yards and 6 TDs. Will he play much on that side of the ball as a senior for Williamson?

“Quite a bit,” Pete said. “We aren’t really saying how much, but at the same time we are going to let him do his thing.”

Pete said Woodyard’s burst to the ball on offense and defense is “almost unreal.” Coleman said he has the talent to stand out even among Alabama’s deep and talented roster.

“There is no choice,” he said. “I know they are loaded with 5-stars every year. But once he blows up, gets in the program – a kid like this – he catches on quickly. He can make all the plays – the spectacular tackles, the one-handed interceptions, he can torque his body in anyway he wants. Special.”

On the recruiting front, linebacker Robert Woodyard has been committed to Alabama for over a year, and was the Tide’s only commitment for the 2022 class for a while there... Similar to Deonte Lawson last year (another linebacker from Mobile).

Keeping that pipeline of Mobile linebackers going is a top priority for the Tide, and Woodyard looks to be another special one.

“I don’t know what y’all want me to say,” Hightower said to a reporter who pressed him on his commitment to playing again. “I’m here. I’m working. I’m in minicamp. But I’m not here to write a story for you, dog; I’m here to work. I’m here. I don’t know what else y’all need me to say. If I wasn’t here, then I think that would probably be something to talk about. But I’m here, so, hopefully, that knocks all those questions out.”

Hightower said he tried to stay in touch with the team and in shape to keep his year off from tempting him not to return.

“Just like riding a bike, if it’s been too long, it’ll take a little time,” Hightower said. “I was watching film and trying to keep up with the guys throughout the season and stuff like that. I was aware of being away too long, but again whenever the opt-out came, that was never my intention. But I’d be naïve to think that if I didn’t do anything that I would enjoy my time at home and fall too far out of shape and then whenever it comes time to actually get out and run, I’m looking around like, ‘Nah, I think I’m going to eat these doughnuts and drink these beers and stuff.’

“But it was great. I enjoyed my time at home with my son and my wife, and I’m glad to be back to work.”

Hightower was one of the highest-profile opt-outs from the 2020 NFL season, and his return should make a huge different for the Pats this upcoming year (I still contend that they’d have two less Super Bowls without a couple of plays he made). That said, he’ll definitely have a longer road to go to get back into the feel of the game after sitting out for an entire year.

In hoops news, James Rojas tore his ACL this week and had surgery:

Alabama redshirt senior forward James Rojas has suffered a torn ACL, men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats announced on Tuesday afternoon. Rojas underwent successful surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning and is expected to make a full recovery with the anticipation — according to a release from UA Athletics — of playing during the 2021-22 SEC season.

Surgery was performed by Dr. Lyle Cain of Andrews Sports Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Ala. Dr. Cain also performed an ACL on Rojas’ right knee in 2019 in which the Jamestown, N.Y., native responded well to an aggressive treatment and made full recovery.

Rojas has been plagued by ACLs the last few years. The senior was hoping to get increased minutes in his final season at Alabama, but now will be fighting just to get back on the court at all his senior year.

The NBA announced Tuesday that 69 players are expected to attend the 2021 NBA Draft Combine, and three players from Alabama are set to participate in the pro scouting event.

Seniors Herbert Jones and John Petty and freshman Josh Primo are on the list of expected attendees for the NBA Draft Combine. Primo was one of two Crimson Tide underclassmen that entered the draft while maintaining their college eligibility, joining sophomore Jaden Shackelford. However, Shackelford was not among the prospects invited to the Combine.

The deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA draft is July 19.

Meanwhile, the Tide has three players getting set to show out for the NBA combine. Jones and Petty have graduated and are looking to get drafted, while Primo is a rising sophomore who is more just testing the waters. Primo was a highly ranked recruit that many thought was a one-and-done candidate, but, while he made his fair share of plays as a freshman, he didn’t make quite the impact of a surefire NBA draft pick.

Though they could always still go pro, I expect Primo and Shackelford to both return for the 2021-2022 season.